Sunday, January 17, 2010

Get ready for a dryer Texas

Jay Banner in the Houston Chronicle: … Our ability to predict changes in Texas' future climate will meet continuing challenges, and there will be uncertainty about how the state should plan for the changes. The likelihood of some effects is becoming clear, however, with improved consensus from the scientific community. For example, projections are consistent that the American Southwest will likely become drier throughout this century, marking a transition to a new average climate for the western part of Texas similar to the drought of the 1950s. It is uncertain exactly when the transition would occur, although some projections suggest that this transition is already under way.

We propose that Texas take three key steps in the near future to address the risks associated with future change. First, assemble the best climate change information that currently exists. Second, improve this information through further research. And third, identify information gaps and uncertainties, and determine how to use the best information-+n to plan for the changes.

There is currently no coordinated effort in the state of Texas to fill these needs. … To better understand the risks that Texas may face in the future, and how best to respond to changing risk, we propose that Texas draw on its depth of knowledge to establish its own expert consortium of scientists, policymakers, resource managers, state agency representatives, educators and stakeholders.

A climate consortium for Texas could conduct the following essential functions:
  • Bring together leading experts and stakeholders to determine the top concerns about how climate change may impact Texas.
  • Quantify uncertainties of future changes, so that the state can determine how to best plan investments for adaptation and for research to reduce uncertainty.
  • Prioritize areas for new research; for example, generation of high-resolution climate projections for regions within Texas, and the response of aquifers, streams, soils and air quality to changing climate.
  • Summarize the latest scientific data for policymakers with accurate quantification of uncertainties.
  • Compare the costs to Texas of acting versus the costs of not acting.
Aerial view of Proctor Lake on the Leon River in Comanche County, Texas, USA, US Army Corps of Engineers

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